China and Russia join UN pressure on Syria for humanitarian access. Red Cross reaches Homs
Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Beijing and Moscow have joined Western countries in demanding that Damascus allow the opening of a humanitarian aid channel and grant access to the UN head of relief, Valerie Amos. Meanwhile, the International Red Cross is preparing to enter Homs, along with the Syrian Red Crescent.
The Amos has repeatedly requested to be able to enter the country, marked by 11 months of violence and clashes between the army and opposition. The place where the humanitarian emergency is strongest is the district of Baba Amr in Homs, bombed for weeks and considered one of the lairs of the armed opposition. The Syrian army began an invasion of the neighborhood yesterday in an attempt to eliminate the rebels.
The Free Syrian Army - FSA, the armed opposition, comprising a majority of deserters and support from abroad - has meanwhile decided a "strategic retreat" from Homs to "save the lives of many civilians."
Last night a compact UN Security Council has strongly criticized Syria "deploring the rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation, especially the growing number of civilians affected, lack of safe access to medical care and food shortages" in places such as Homs and Hama. It is also demanding immediate access to aid workers to help the population.
What is new however is that China and Russia, who in the weeks previous vetoed the UN Security Council and the Assembly resolutions, are supporting this motion.
The Red Cross asked for time to get in Homs to bring support to civilians. Now the organization confirms that the Syrian government has given it the "green light" to go to Baba Amr with food and medicine.
Reports describe how the majority of the population has fled Homs this week and only the rebels have remained there. The Free Syrian Army says there are still 4 thousand civilians who have not abandoned their homes to destruction. It is impossible to confirm these figures, given the lack of independent sources.
Meanwhile there are new divisions on the opposition front: the Syrian National Council - a kind of provisional opposition government in exile, which has the support of several Western and Arab countries - has decided to open a section to govern the various armed rebel groups. The head of the FSA, Colonel Riyadh al-Asaad, said that his group would not cooperate with the new body. Several witness said that the FSA is guilty of looting and violence against the population. Among the troops there are radical Muslims who practice a religious-ethnic cleansing against Christians and Alawites.